Tell us about your film ’Following Mamani Abdoulaye’, an homage to your late father…
It is a quest, rather : I haven’t much known my father who was born in 1932 at Zinder, When he died in 1993, I was only 10 years old. Not knowing him well triggered my decision to make the film, I wanted to follow my dear father’s steps.

(You awaited his return for a long time)
We lived in Zinder, my father left our home to go to Niamey and receive the Boubou Hama Literary Award, He died on the way to Niamey to receive the prize, He had promised my sisters and me to bring back a doll each, I waited for the promised doll for a long time, but he never returned, The older I grew, the more I missed my father.

Mamani Abdoulaye is mainly known as a writer...
He is well known for a novel entitled Sarraounia, published in 1980, It is the story of a local queen who stood against the advance of the Voulet-Chanoine Mission, he presented her as a hero in the fight against colonization, The novel is part of the school program, it is studied at university. He also wrote poems, plays and other novels.

What about his political involvement ?{}
Thanks to persons I have met, I have discovered that he had been a trade-union member in the 50’s, and a member of the Nigerien Progressist Party (PPN), In 1955, aged 25, he was elected Zinder ’s representative for the Sawaba Party, created from a split from the PPN, later he was the Niger Delegate to the French Western African Council in Dakar. In 1960, with independence, the Sawaba was banned by the established government. My father directed the newspaper of the party that had really struggled for genuine independence for Niger, by saying ’No’ to General de Gaulle. Wanted and threatened with death, he took refuge in Algeria, the revolutionaries’mecca at the time, He worked for the Algerien radio and was a teacher at Alger’s Journalism School, Back in Niger at the end of the seventies, he devoted his time mostly to writing,

What have you been involved in since your father’s death in 1993 ?
I completed my studies normally. When he died, I was a primary school student in grade 5, I was born and grew up in Zinder,then I moved to Nyamey,
After graduating from High school, I took a marketing course. In 2008, the newspaper SAHEL published a call for ten female candidates with an interest in documentary films. For a long time, I had wanted to make films, but didn’t know how to start. I was accepted, and followed various courses in documentary scripts. The idea of making a film on my father dawned on me, as I had already written a short story on him.

I registered with the Information and Communication Institute (IFTIC) and I graduated in audiovisual production , My student film, Hawan Idi, was awarded Best Student Documentary Film at the FESPACO (Panafrican Film and Television Festival at Ouagadougou) in 2013, In 2014, I was invited in residence in France at Annecy, for nearly a year, so as to develop my project of a documentary on my father,

How did you proceed to build the story telling line of ’On the trail of Mamani Abdoulaye’?

  • It was very difficult for me to consult archives. The film took 10 years of my life, in between research, writing, filming and editing, I started in 2008 and completed it in 2018. It was exhausting, but I was determined.

How was the film received ?
The film was very well received at the African Film and Audiovisual International Market (FESTACO) in 2019. On June 8th, 2019, the film’s premiere took place in Niamey. It was very well received, the cinema was full, and some of Mamani’s companions were present. It was the first time for Nigeriens to discover his course, since his struggle as a trade union defender and as a politician are not recorded in official history. Some Nigerien historians congratulated me, saying : ’Your work is extraordinary, we should have done it, and you are the one who took it up’.

On Mamani Abdoulaye‘s steps has been shown in various festivals in Burkina Faso, Switzerland, France, Algeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Canada… It was awarded the jury’s Special Mention at the International Film Festival in Algiers. It has been selected at other Festivals, but all film shows have currently been suspended owing to the COVID pandemic.

« Sur les traces de Mamani Abdoulaye » is available by replay o, TV5.

Interview byNacima Chabani for Elwatan and by Marie-Françoise Roy forTarbiyya Tatali.
See here

Documentary: ’On the trail of Mamani Abdoulaye’
Interview published in Le Magazine de Tarbiyya-Tatali number 12 (here)